Performing arts are very popular in Thailand- though they are quite different than those in the west. I am amazed at how fearlessly most Thais will stand in front of a huge crowd to sing karaoke, the groups of grandmothers that dance their hearts’ out in the street for a monk ordination, and the live entertainment that is always present at any big gathering. There is also a strong traditional of Thai performing arts like Manora dance and Khon theater. Thais seem quite confident when they are put infront of a crowd- until it involves English.
One of the fun projects that I have been working on lately is called “Thai Youth Theater,” a 2 day festival where students from all over Thailand come to perform a short play they have put together. They also participate in workshop sessions related to the performing arts and English. I am on the committee to help plan the festival, and this year I will also be bringing a group of 11 girls to participate. My group will be doing a short version of “Snow White,” which they have been working on for the past 3 months. They have worked hard, practicing with me everyday at lunch time and spending a number of Saturdays rehearsing. Its been amazing to see their progress as they speak with better diction and more confidence. One thing that is really hard for English students in Thailand is to understand English intonations. It is especially hard because Thai is a tonal language, so when speaking Thai, if you change the pitch or intonation of a word you are changing the meaning. Its hard for them to understand that they are used and needed in English to convey the meaning of what you are saying. Practicing English through theater is a great way for them to practice really exaggerating what they are saying.
The festival will take place in two weeks. If you are interested in donating to help sustain this project click here.